A new book by Sri Radha Govinda Dasi called “How to Mess Up Your Life with Astrology,” released this January, warns of the dangers of approaching this ancient Vedic science in the wrong way, and explains its real meaning and purpose from the Vaishnava perspective.
The title is punchy and funny, and the book’s tone hip and readable, but the real life stories inside are sad and true.
Born in Karnataka, South India in a family of Madhva Brahmanas, 28-year-old author Sri knows what she’s talking about. She’s a psychotherapist, certified mediator, takes astrology instruction from a guru in Melkote, South India whose father taught her own grandfather, and has counseled people from five continents for the past eight years. She also presents seminars on relationships, astrology, palmistry, and Vedic philosophy to the general public.
Now based in the sacred town of Mayapur, West Bengal, Sri uses Vedic astrology, traditional palmistry and other Vedic sciences according to the instruction of her guru Jayapataka Swami. She applies these sciences to bring out Krishna conscious suggestions and practical adjustments people can make in their lives to gain more success, fulfillment and long-term happiness.
“My goal is to help people become more God conscious, or at least self conscious,” she says.
But in her time, Sri has met many clients who experienced major problems in their lives by approaching astrology in the wrong way. She kept a diary of their challenges, and decided to write a book about them to help others avoid the same mistakes.
As Sri writes in her book, common mistakes include having false expectations of astrology; not understanding the philosophy behind astrology; consulting unqualified and misleading astrologers; forfeiting your personal power, responsibility and free will; and misusing astrology to get what you want and not what you need.
Sri gives the example in the first chapter of her book of a woman named Uma in South India who made several of these mistakes at once. Uma came to Sri distraught, saying her son Ram was hopeless and was giving her so many problems. “How can I make him study hard and become an engineer?” she begged.
Consulting Ram’s chart and later meeting the boy himself, Sri saw to her surprise that the boy was only eight years old—a bit young to be studying engineering—and was remarkably smart and a skilled artist. When she told Uma that her son’s chart showed he could become successful and wealthy if he pursued an artistic career, the woman despaired. It turned out that all her relatives’ children were studying engineering, and she was conferring the pressure she felt to “fit in” on her son, thinking that was the only way he could become happy.
On top of that, the woman had paid another astrologer 150,000 rupees to perform a fire sacrifice to ‘make her son become an engineer’ and had bought an emerald ring he had told her would ‘make her boy study harder.’
Naturally Sri advised Uma that astrology wasn’t about trying to change others to suit one’s own whims—this would have only led to her making her son’s life miserable.
The woman also took advice from a clearly unqualified astrologer—another move that can cause major problems.
“People take what an astrologer says very seriously,” explains Sri. “And if we make a mistake, or don’t get the mood of the client, or their motive; or if we are not sensitive enough, then there are chances of ruining their life. It’s a huge moral and karmic responsibility.”
She gives the example of a devotee couple who had been married for four years with a baby, and were having difficulties in their marriage. They went to an astrologer, who told them that they were very incompatible and shouldn’t stay together. Very disappointed to hear this, their guru contacted Sri for help with the situation.
“In reality, if we want to sincerely work on our relationships, astrology can help guide us,” she says. “Astrology should help us to follow our dharma, and not to break it. So it’s a crucial science. It requires intelligence both on the part of the client and that of the astrologer.”
As Sri explains in her book, astrology is not about forfeiting one’s personal power, responsibility and free will.
“Astrology works because there is free will,” she says. “So I try to help people take responsibility for their choices, face their lot in a mature way, and create a better future.”
At the same time, according to Sri, it can also be risky for couples to completely neglect checking their astrological compatibility just because they are “in love”.
“Better to deal with intelligence, and not take only what we like or want,” she says. “By having a balanced approach we can get help from astrology. There are two times in life when it is especially advised to consult a qualified astrologer. When you get married—to check basic compatibility, get tips of how to enhance the relationship spiritually, and learn what good and bad times are ahead so that you can adjust accordingly. And when you have children, so you can understand their nature, and guide and train them accordingly.”
“Ultimately, however, Krishna controls all the planets, and therefore we don’t need to worry,” Sri continues. “We are in safe hands. The goal of life is to love Krishna. And regardless of what our astrological charts say, we should devote our life in Krishna consciousness.”
This spiritual perspective is what gives Sri’s book a truly unique understanding. Unlike other astrology books, it discusses Karma and the effects of previous lives, as well as the devotee’s approach to astrology.
“My conclusion is that whatever karma or astrological chart we hold is perfectly tailor-made for us,” she says. “It’s all for our good, just like paying back a loan. So there is no such thing as bad. We must accept our lot and focus on positives and stop running to astrologers to fix our problems. In the end it goes beyond astrology. Just follow Dharma and shastra, or scripture, and a good chart will follow you.”
The response to Sri’s book has been very positive so far, with readers enjoying the deep moral and spiritual content mixed with entertaining stories they can relate to. Devotees in particular are grateful to get clarification on many points, while senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada disciples find the book to be an important work. “Those who wish to consult an astrologer should read this book in order to prevent disappointment or disturbance in their life,” writes GBC member Bhanu Swami in his forward.
“I self-published the first printing of the book,” says Sri. “But I am looking towards broader circulation and big publishers so that the message can become widespread.”
For more information, please visit www.mapss.in. To order “How to Mess up Your Life with Astrology,” visit amazon.com write to Sri Radha Govinda Dasi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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